Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Invisible Theatre takes a trip to Civil War country

By Chastity Eva Laskey Special to the Arizona Daily Star

Invisible Theatre has some old-fashioned romance sprinkled with humor in mind.

The company opens Kenny Finkle’s “Alive and Well” next week. It tells the story of a couple searching for the oldest living Civil War veteran and finding much more than that.

Susan Claassen, director and IT’s managing artistic director, says the play is in the spirit of the golden age of Hollywood’s great romantic comedies, such as “Romancing the Stone” and “African Queen.”

Read the entire review [click here].


Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Coming Apart" review in the Arizona Daily Star

Link to AZ Star 

Tucson's Invisible Theatre starts its season with laughs

Coming Apart
  •     Tim Fuller
"Love and Marriage Go Together Like" …  unless you are romance author Frances Kittridge (Susan Kovitz) and her husband comedy columnist Colin (David Johnston) who are going through a trial separation and division of worldly goods while living in the same NYC apartment!


So she has planned Invisible Theatre’s season accordingly.
“The first couple of shows are lighthearted in what appears to be a challenging fall for the world,” says Claassen, the company’s managing artistic director.
Next week, IT opens its 2016-17 season with Fred Carmichael’s comedy, “Coming Apart.”

At its heart: “Coming Apart is “a romantic comedy of love and marriage, but it also touches on what happens when pride enters a relationship,” says Claassen, who is a member of the cast.

The couple coming apart are both writers who have been married for 21 years. “How do they celebrate each other’s success while still believing in their own,” she says.

About that couple: Colin writes a weekly humor column. Fran writes romance novels, but is about to write one about how to survive a marriage.
Troubled waters: Colin and Fran are competitive. And stubborn. In the heat of a moment, they both demand a divorce.
Neither wants it, but neither is willing to back down. Even their memories presents differences.
“They both remember things a little differently, such as the day of the proposal,” says Claassen.

A little help from friends: Sylvia is Fran’s agent; Bert is Colin’s best friend.
“Everyone tries to get them back together,” says Claassen, who plays Sylvia. “But there some doubts along the way.”

The takeaway: The play has some ideas the audience can chew on.
“That sometimes, for all of us, our pride gets in the way,” says Claassen. “And maybe listening is a lost art, and maybe we should discuss things in a civil way.”
But most of all, she says, “In the end, there are some good laughs.”

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at
kallen@tucson.com
or 573-4128. On Twitter: @kallenStar


Monday, May 9, 2016

IT Ends Season 45 with a Hit!!!

SNAPPY "PICTURES" HAS NEIL SIMON'S HUMOR AND HEART
Top of the cream actors (from L) Susan Kovitz, David Alexander Johnston and Lucille Petty stir up Invisible Theatre's "I Ought To Be in Pictures."
There was life before cell phones and laptops. We know this because Invisible Theater is playing Neil Simon's “I Ought To Be in Pictures,” with actors using an actual typewriter and a telephone.
Kind of a shock to see, especially that typewriter. So noisy. How can a writer think with all that clatter going on?
No matter. From out of all this low tech chaos, director Susan Claassen and associate director Fred Rodriguez have created a lighter-than-air comedy laced with loving sentiment in a top cream cast of Lucille Petty, David Alexander Johnston and Susan Kovitz.
Simon's play debuted in 1980, telling the story of Herb (Alexander) who ran away from his New York wife and family in the early Sixties, beating the hippies to California and starting his arty life in Los Angeles as a writer for TV and the movies.
The play opens with the arrival at Herb's cluttered West Hollywood bungalow of his feisty 19-year-old daughter Libby (Petty).
 
This is a huge break-out performance for Petty. The role calls for her to enter as a petulant teen angry at this father who abandoned her without a second thought and never made any attempt to stay in touch.
Working her way through fifty shades of outward revenge and hidden remorse, Petty is always completely believable. She does this with a genuine inner energy, the soulful kind, not just a lot of jittery surface body language.
Johnston, for his part, matches her scene for scene as the man who has been her reluctant father for 16 years, feeling guilty but not guilty enough to make amends.
Once the belligerent daughter and this blustering defensive father see each other face to face, you can feel them both begin to change. It isn't something you see, but something you feel out in the audience.
Providing the balance in this ensemble trio is Kovitz as Steffy, the free-love girlfriend of Herb, willing to bide her time without any strings attached. Within the play's plot machinations, she becomes the straight-person for both Libby and Herb.

This is Neil Simon, after all. Jokes are the rye bread and sauerkraut that holds everything together. The lack of a decent delicatessen in Los Angeles becomes a running joke for Herb, ever a New Yorker at heart.
What we get is an evening of excellent theater with lots of bubbly fizz but, down under the ice cubes, a touching insistence on the importance of family.
“I Ought To Be in Pictures” continues through May 1 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave. An additional 3 p.m. matinee is April 30. All tickets are $30. For details and reservations, 882-9721, or visit invisibletheatre.com



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: Invisible Theatre explores art, culture in 'Bakersfield Mist'

Review: Invisible Theatre explores art, culture in 'Bakersfield Mist'


October 15, 2015 11:45 am  •  

Arizona Daily Star
Review

Class attitudes and cultural differences collide like the paint and colors of a Jackson Pollock painting in Stephen Sachs’ comedy “Bakersfield Mist,” which Invisible Theatre opened Wednesday night.

aBakersfield
Susan Kovitz as Maude and Roberto Guajardo as Lionel in Invisible Theatre’s production of “Bakersfield Mist,” by Stephen Sachs. The comedy was inspired by Jackson Pollock.

Read the entire review here:
Review: Invisible Theatre explores art, culture in 'Bakersfield Mist'




Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: 'Bakersfield Mist' at Invisible Theatre


Review: 'Bakersfield Mist' at Invisible Theatre



by Ann Brown

Class attitudes and cultural differences collide like the paint and colors of a Jackson Pollock painting in Stephen Sachs’ comedy “Bakersfield Mist,” which Invisible Theatre opened Wednesday night.
Sachs, inspired by news accounts of a woman who purchased what she hoped was a Pollock painting in a thrift store, puts Maude Gutman (Susan Kovitz) in The Sage Brush Trailer Park in rural California with a painting that might — or might not — be a pricy Jackson Pollock, which she picked up for $3 as a joke gift for a friend. Maude is a rough-hewn, profanity-spewing unemployed bartender who is anxious to prove the authenticity of the supposed Pollock. She wants it to be real, and not just for the money.
A former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, dubbed the “Vatican of art” in the play, and expert from the hoity-toity International Foundation for Art Research in New York, Lionel Percy (Roberto Guajardo), comes to Maude's trailer to inspect the painting and determine if the piece is real or if it is a fake. Buttoned-up Lionel fancies himself the ultimate “fake buster.”
As the two collide over the painting's authenticity, the definition of art and what art should be and do is explored. Lionel’s richly textured description of the difference between the shallowness of a drip-and-splatter painter who copied Pollock, and the fire, power and allure of Pollack, which Guajardo delivered with passion, gives pause and pushes consideration of personal views of art.
Notions of instant impressions and authenticity percolate as the characters verbally spar, lubricated by a bottle of Jack Daniel's. Kovitz brings unsophisticated Maude’s hard-living, working-class wit and sensibilities to the surface and she evokes empathy.
Guajardo’s physical comedy — the blink of his eyes and the way he leans to the side as he inspects the painting — shows his character is more that a stuffed suit with a matching handkerchief. And, oh, can Guajardo deliver a line oozing with sarcasm.
Director Gail Fitzhugh, effectively working with Invisible Theatre’s small, angular stage space, begins the play by having Kovitz flit around the trailer while Guajardo was more rigid, seated on a chair with his briefcase and papers in front of him — another signal of their differences. Fitzhugh also adds depth to the characters’ personalities as underlying demons are revealed. Maude won't be intimidated or belittled by her lack of education or social status, and Lionel packs professional and personal baggage.
Set designers James Blair and Susan Claassen must have spent weeks rummaging through second-hand stores and yard sales. The entire play takes place in the tiny kitchen-dining-living area of Maude’s trailer, which is furnished with bright, bold colored patterns on the dinette, portable snack tables and hand-crocheted afghans, and is crammed with brick-a-brac like M&M’s-themed tchotchkes. Maude calls herself a packrat and freely admits that she frequents thrift stores and the bottoms of garbage bins for her d├ęcor.
However, Maude’s trailer, cluttered with her trashy treasures and is a mishmash of colors, textures and themes, is full of her vitality. They give her pleasure. Like a Pollock painting.
Unlike a Pollock painting, the play has patronizing points. Kovitz and Guajardo make strong adversaries with dueling personalities, yet the characters are overly stereotypical. And the name "Gutman" dealing with first impression? Oh, please.
And the ending is just too precious.
Overall, “Bakersfield Mist” is an enjoyable production that will have you thinking about art and its intrinsic value, and maybe checking the painting section the next time you’re in a thrift store.
Contact Ann Brown at abrown@tucson.com or 573-4226. On Twitter: @AnnattheStar
http://tucson.com/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/review-bakersfield-mist-at-invisible-theatre/article_28081a69-875c-527d-8225-ede8c64a528f.html

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Invisible Theatre to open "Bakersfield Mist"

Invisible Theatre to open "Bakersfield Mist"



Invisible Theatre to open "Bakersfield Mist"


Jackson Pollock’s work has inspired many.
And stories surrounding the artist's works have been inspired, as well.
One of those stories drove playwright Stephen Sachs to write “Bakersfield Mist,” which Invisible Theatre opens Wednesday, Oct. 14. Pollock’s work is at the center of the comedy, which is a roller coaster ride with it's smart, biting dialogue to the vast differences between the two characters in the play.
aBakersfield
Susan Kovitz as Maude and Roberto Guajardo as Lionel in Invisible Theatre's production of "Bakersfield Mist." -- Credit: Tim Fuller
Read the entire preview here: http://goo.gl/P1WPeh

Monday, September 7, 2015

CAPOTE REVEALED IN "TRU"

CAPOTE REVEALED IN "TRU"


By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com

Chuck Yates is Truman Capote in "Tru."
I always remember Truman Capote as the flamingly outrageous, perennial TV guest you watched in the 1960s because he was liable to say most anything – the more shocking the better.

Parents hated him, which was always a good thing.
But that's not the Capote personality we get to see in “Tru” at Invisible Theatre, where visiting guest artist Chuck Yates creates an off-camera Capote desperately alone in his sumptuous apartment at Manhattan's UN Plaza overlooking the East River.

Truman unplugged, you might say.
Directed by Yates' good friend Larry Raben, the actor in this one-man show creates a mincing Capote on the edge of losing it.

Facing the collapse of his career, he refuses to face anything. Always changing his focus, nervously looking some place else for help, he's desperate to get a laugh, grab for a straight line he can turn into a cutting remark, anything to prove he isn't afraid.
Historically, “Tru” begins on the evening of Dec. 23, 1975. It had been 10 years since Capote had that breakout hit with his book of journalism, “In Cold Blood” and 17 years since the charming “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” People were beginning to talk.

Would he ever write anything else worth reading? Would he ever write anything else at all?
Capote's answer, which he has been writing in secret, would be a tell-all book on all of his famous friends and cocktail acquaintances. Everything would be revealed. He would call it “Answered Prayers.”

To prime the pump, Capote had given Esquire magazine a portion of the book, which Esquire published had a few months earlier in 1975. But instead of praise, the pages created an instant storm of incensed protest from the betrayed celebrities.
Capote thought the excerpt would help revive his career. It shocked him to watch how “Answered Prayers” became the last nail in his own coffin.
It is this back story that gives depth to Yates performance. The nuances of his body language, the way his high-pitched, reedy voice kept running off to hide in a corner of his nervous laughter.

“I've been to seven parties in two days,” Capote announced early on, proudly proving his appetite for night life. Occasionally he would lift a bulky cassette recorder to his face, saving a thought, a phrase.

Capote could run through lists of notable friendships long as any lineage in the Old Testament. From New England's Kennedy family to Sharon Tate and the Manson family, Capote was connected.

“I like to talk to myself about myself,” he says in Act Two, ruminating about his life over those two days in two acts, December 23 and Christmas Eve.

For most of the play, this tortured and self-made personality is talking to the ceiling, stretching out on the couch, pacing back and forth, staring out his penthouse windows overlooking the swirling city below, where some of those same disgusted people are sitting around in well-appointed rooms muttering bitter words about Capote.

Yates takes us on this convincing journey of attempted escape, twisting and turning, darting about and giggling some more, with a talent so effortless “Tru” starts feeling like a documentary of Capote's demise.

The script written by Jay Presson Allen is taken, we are told, “from the words and works of Truman Capote.” It is Yates who adds the voice and the soul.

“Tru” continues through Sept. 13 with performances at 7:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. matinees Sunday (Sept. 6),  Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 12-13), at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
Tickets are $30, with discounts available. For details, information and online purchase, visit www.invisibletheatre.com, or call 520-882-9721.